DUR-7D8726: DUR-7D8726

Rights Holder: Durham County Council
CC License:

Image use policy

Our images can be used under a CC BY attribution licence (unless stated otherwise).


Unique ID: DUR-7D8726

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

Gold coin, Early Medieval Byzantine, pierced, treasure

This was examined by Barrie Cook who comments-

I have examined a single coin reported found in the Bedale area. The coin is a gold histamenon trachy of the Byzantine emperor Michael VII Ducas (1071-1078), class IId and it weighs 4.17g, at the lower end of the range for examples of this coin. The obverse of the coin depicts a bust of Christ, raising his hand in blessing and the reverse shows a bust of the emperor with his name and titles in Greek letters.

Although the Byzantine gold coinage was famous for centuries for its fineness, the later 11th century was a time of debasement, and the gold of Michael VII was in fact about 12 carats fine, i.e. about 50% gold to 50% silver in its makeup. Michael VII's gold coins, known to westerners as 'michelois', were the principal high-value coin in the Middle East encountered by participants in the First Crusade in the 1090s and in the early years of the kingdom of Jerusalem and the other crusader states at the start of the 12th century. Although single coins are not normally eligible for consideration under the Treasure Act, coins removed from currency and converted into jewellery are so classed. This coin has a piercing that indicates that it was almost certainly worn at some time as a pendant. The placing of the hole demonstrates that it was intended to display the image of the emperor, not that of Christ. Many surviving Byzantine gold coins of this period are pierced in exactly this way: for example, five of the 12 gold coins of Michael VII in the British Museum collection are similarly pierced, while the 37 examples in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection include five pierced ones and another with a suspension loop attached. There is evidence in late medieval and early modern times that in the lands of the former Byzantine Empire children could be given coins pierced like this. In this tradition, the emperor on the coin, whoever he was originally, represented Constantine the Great, as the first Christian emperor and founder of Constantinople. However, it is not clear when this practice began. There is little doubt that Byzantine gold coins were familiar in medieval England, despite a lack of previous finds from the relevant period of the 10th to 13th centuries: there is abundant documentary evidence from the 1150s onwards to show this (for a detailed discussion, see B.J. Cook, 'The bezant in Angevin England', Numismatic Chronicle 159 (1999), pp. 255-276). This coin is earlier in date than most of the surviving references, but the documentary record before the 1150s is much sparser and our evidence for the presence of Byzantine gold necessarily less extensive. There does seem enough evidence to allow for the possibility of a coin such as this arriving in England in the decades around 1100 and for it to have a role either as either a piece of jewellery or as an item of currency to be used in a formal or ritual setting when a piece of gold was required: e.g. as a religious offering, an entry fine when inheriting land, as a token payment to settle a claim.

Evidence of reuse: pierced

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2010T298


Broad period: BYZANTINE
Subperiod from: Middle
Period from: BYZANTINE
Subperiod to: Middle
Period to: BYZANTINE
Date from: Circa AD 1071
Date to: Circa AD 1078
Period of reuse: MEDIEVAL

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Weight: 4.2 g
Diameter: 27.83 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 11th April 2010

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Frances McIntosh
Identified by: Miss Frances McIntosh
Secondary identifier: Dr Barrie Cook

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2010T298

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Manufacture method: Struck or hammered
Completeness: Complete

Coin data (numismatics)

Denomination: electrum histamenon nomisma
Ruler/issuer: Michael VII Doukas

Coin references

No coin references available.

Spatial metadata

Region: Yorkshire and the Humber (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: North Yorkshire (County)
District: Hambleton (District)
To be known as: Bedale Area

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1000 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Character undetermined

References cited

No references cited so far.

Similar objects

Find number: LON-1C22F5
Object type: COIN
A complete Early Medieval gold perforated Roman coin (6th to early 7th century). It is a Visigothic imitation of a gold tremissis of Libius S…
Workflow: PublishedFind published

Find number: KENT-C37138
Object type: COIN
Broadperiod: BYZANTINE
CURATOR'S REPORT A gold pendant, incorporating a Visigothic gold tremissis in the name of the Roman Emperor Anastasius I of Byzantium (r.49…
Workflow: Awaiting validationFind awaiting validation

Find number: KENT-B64E63
Object type: COIN HOARD
Broadperiod: POST MEDIEVAL
I initially examined a group of 12 coins reported found at Charing in Kent and have also looked at 4 coins subsequently discovered. This repo…
Workflow: Awaiting validationFind awaiting validation

Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: DUR
Created: 8 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

Other formats: this page is available as qrcode json xml geojson pdf rdf representations.